A Story of Blessings, a Baby, and Breasts.

July 25, 2011 at 11:31 pm 26 comments

 

 

*EDIT: I forgot to add this within the story, and I just want to make a note that I did have blood work done in November when I was first struggling with low supply.  Nothing of concern was noted.  I also had more blood work (hormonal levels and thyroid) checked in March at my annual physical, and again, no concern.  I do realize this does not MEAN there are no physiological reasons, but these were explored and so that is why I am at such a loss!  Thank you for reading – I am overwhelmed with the response to this post, and I feel SO honoured to hear so many stories from amazing mamas.  <3 

When I was pregnant, one of the biggest themes present in my crazy, extremely vivid pregnancy-style dreams was that of breastfeeding.  My baby, in my dreams, was faceless, but beautiful.  I didn’t know if my baby was a boy or girl, because we had decided not to find out, let nature run it’s course, and find out when I gave birth to our child.  In my dreams, it was the same, I didn’t know if it was a boy or if it was a girl, and sometimes, it was a boy, and sometimes, it was a girl.  But for the most part, when I would dream about my baby, my baby was simply that – a baby.  But MY baby, a beautiful tiny little being, full of life, love, and full of dreams.

Just like I was.  I frequently had dreams about my unborn baby, and I would always wake up and tell Kyle what happened that previous night in dreamland.  Most of the time, it was nothing new.  Most of the time, it was simply that I was holding my baby, rocking my baby to sleep, and breastfeeding my baby in my arms.  Simple, right?

Throughout my pregnancy, and for any of you that have been pregnant I’m sure you can relate, one of the hot topics is how you are going to feed your baby, except it is not asked in such a way, it is asked of you if you are going to breastfeed.  It’s just one of those natural things, right?  Right.  I had done a lot of reading about pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding (however, not NEAR as much as I do now, the birth junkie that I am) and so I felt like I had a good handle on it.  I was not fearful of the labour or birthing process, in fact, I was looking forward to it.  I was amazed that my body was going to take over, with the aid of my brain and my baby, and we were going to do something miraculous, yet totally normal and happens all the time.

For the 9ish months that I was pregnant, I was waiting for my breasts to change.  I was waiting for them to get ginormous, to say the least, and it never happened.  I knew that this didn’t always happen, but I never really experienced much in the way of breast changes.  The only time I remember any pregnancy symptom that was breast-related, was in the summertime, being in the hot sun and going for dunks in the lake, and having the sorest most tender nipples EVER.  It was uncomfortable but secretly I was cheering inside because I had always wondered up to that point what was up with the lack of boobie changes?  On more than one occasion, did I wonder out loud if I would have issues with not being able to produce milk for my child because my breasts were not showing any evidence of this whole pregnant deal.

Cade was born on November 3 at 8:08pm and as most of you know, it was the most beautiful and transformative experience of my life.  Cade was born and I was born as a mother.  Just like that.  It still blows my mind, really.  He was immediately placed on my chest for me to introduce myself (though he had known me all along) and love all up.  I was in a state of complete bliss, and perhaps a slight amount of shock, but most of all, I was ecstatic and beside myself.  I couldn’t believe it.  “Oh my god, Oh my god!  I can’t believe this!  I can’t believe you are mine!  You are so cute!  Oh my god!  You are so beautiful!  I love you so much!”  I wish, to this day, that the moment that Cade was born was video’d, because it was incredible.  And not only that, but my declaration of love was, am I allowed to do this, flippin’ AWESOME.  I was over the moon for this little being!

And while I was beside myself, blissed right out, it did not cross my mind at that moment to breastfeed my son.  I don’t know if it crossed anyone’s mind, because it didn’t happen right then and there.  I wonder to this day if it would have made a difference, and I don’t THINK it would have, but I’m a sucker for not knowing.  I held my son for quite awhile, and Kyle and I gushed over him like mad.  I don’t remember timelines exactly, I don’t remember when he was taken to the warmer, Kyle right beside him for the whole time, and I don’t remember when they wrapped him all up, but I know that we had skin-to-skin for awhile.  I have tried not to have any regrets about this moment, because I know in my right, rational mind, there is nothing I can do differently about it, and having regrets is unhealthy.  So I don’t regret it, but I use it as a learning tool.  I would loved to have delayed everything, the “cleaning” of my son (rub that goodness right in!), the weighing, you name it, and I would’ve wanted us to attempt the breast crawl right off the bat, to initiate eye contact and bonding in such a way.

It wasn’t until we were up on post-partum, after I had showered and cleaned up, and after Cade had been wrapped in blankets, warmed right up, and had a bath, did we attempt breastfeeding.  He knew exactly what to do.  I remember the nurse that was helping me, bless her heart, said “look, wow, he knows exactly how to do this, he is a pro.”  I believed her and we went on with our night, as rough as it was.  Cade cried most of the night, despite frequent attempted feedings, cuddles, and skin-to-skin.   Kyle and I were both exhausted, and I broke down at one point because I “didn’t know what to do and I was so tired” and the nurse swaddled Cade up tightly, rocked him a bit, and handed him back to me.  It was not until 6am that he finally got some sleep, and so did I.

I always say that the beginning of motherhood is so insane.  You start off after going hours, days without sleep, and then you are thrown into a whole new wild world of breastfeeding, caring for a baby, and trying to heal, physically and emotionally from everything that just took place.  That’s exactly where I was at.  I could barely lie in bed without my perineum aching, and not only that, but I couldn’t pee due to the epidural/IV combo I had been infused with.  Toss in sore and cracked nipples into the mix and I’m spent.

The next day I remember being a bit calmer.  I would frequently breastfeed Cade, and I felt that things were going well.  I was in a sleep-deprivation induced haze, but was over the moon and in love with everything.  The tears poured out of my eyes over any and everything.  I was tired, so I cried.  I was in love with Kyle as a father, and so I cried again.   I remember the nurses in the hospital telling me to rest up that day, as baby’s second night of life was usually chaotic and they wanted to be up eating all the time.  I felt somewhat prepared, but that didn’t really happen.  That night, actually went off without much of a hitch.  Cade would wake up every 1.5-2 hours to feed, and would then go back to sleep.  Kyle and I woke up feeling somewhat refreshed, but still extremely exhausted.  Mostly, we were excited to be taking our little boy home, as that was the plan.  They tested his bili levels and they were fine, he was not jaundiced, and so we were able to go home.  That morning, I remember asking a nurse for the help of a lactation consultant, to ensure that everything really WAS going well and that we were latching.  The nurse basically denied me this request, saying that the LC’s were usually reserved for individuals who were struggling and having breastfeeding issues.  At the time, I accepted this, especially because she told me she had a passion for breastfeeding and offered to help me out.  I thought this was fine and dandy, and she really WAS of great assistance and showed me different positions to ease my achy nipples, however, looking back, I do think this was wrong.  I should have not have been denied the support of a LC by any means, and while I don’t think this affected our journey at all, I just think it’s unfortunate.

So homeward bound we were, and we couldn’t be happier.  I was on a strict regiment of having 2 baths a day, and to feed my son on demand, which I would do anyway.  The thought of using formula never crossed my mind.  I thought things were going quite delightful actually, until that night.  The sun went down and the evening reared its ugly head.  Cade turned into a nightmare, and in turn, so did his mama.  I must say, thank goodness for the best father ever, because he really was our rock at this time.  I’m sure there were times where he wondered who he should comfort first, though obviously that answer is pretty clear-cut.  Cade screamed.  All.  Bloody.  Night.  Despite constantly nursing him.  Despite endless cuddles and swaddling.  We swaddled him with an additional blanket.  It was shortly after that that he stopped crying and slept.  That was around 7am.  And I must say, we were pretty proud of ourselves.  Oh, so THAT was it. He was just cold, well DUH!

But it wasn’t just temperature regulation that was the issue, oh no, because he lost his mind the next night too.  And I felt oh so bad for this poor little boy.  What an entrance to this thing called life.  He screamed.  He screamed some more.  He cried.  He yelled.  He wailed.  I cried.  Kyle rocked and swaddled and patted and rocked and cuddled.  I think it was about 8am that Cade finally crashed for a couple hours.  Kyle and I were absolutely zonked.  I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, and Cade looked a little on the yellow jaundicey side of things, and so I called the Healthy & Home nurses and demanded that they come for a home visit that day.

It pains me so hard, it breaks me into pieces, and it hurts my heart to think what COULD have happened if the nurses didn’t come that day, if something wouldn’t have told Kyle and I that we NEEDED to seek out support immediately.  I was starving my boy and I didn’t even know it.  Except, I did.  I knew something was wrong, and it was only after 2 nights of solid screaming did I wonder if perhaps he wasn’t getting enough to eat?

I was in tears on the phone with the nurse.  They sensed my urgency and they came over within an hour and a half.  They weighed my poor, sad, hungry little boy, and he had lost a pound of his body weight, which totalled 13 % which is a major red flag.  He hadn’t pooped in a couple days, and I really don’t remember his wet diaper count, but it wasn’t good.  I know that some major lactivists might say I was booby trapped after I say this next point – and maybe I was and maybe I wasn’t – what I DO know is my boy HAD to eat and he was a completely different baby after we fed him formula.  The nurses with Healthy & Home are lactation consultants as well, and Cindy, oh dear Cindy, was a kind, compassionate soul.  She understood my deep desire, my need, to breastfeed my son, and she understood my need to nurture him, with love and with nutrition, and she understood that he HAD TO EAT.  This was not an option, and I was not producing enough for my poor, sweet boy.  When we came to this conclusion, I was heartbroken.  I burst into tears, I had a million questions, and Cindy was amazing.  I swear, I should’ve sent her flowers.  I don’t know if it’s because she was the first nurse we encountered after going home or what, but she is the only LC’s name that I remember, and there were I think 5 different LC’s that visited us at home within a few days, to check on Cade’s bili levels and to provide breastfeeding support.  (Actually, this is an aside, but I think I am going to contact Cindy and let her know how much I appreciated her. )

Cindy basically demanded that we had to get some calories into this boy asap.  She asked if we had some on hand, and sure enough, WE DID (go on lactivists, attack me for not tossing out the free formula samples).  I saved everything we got in the mail, why?  I don’t know.  I remember thinking when I got the formula samples “oh, well, I’ll never need these, in the closet they go.”  I showed her the only bottle we had on hand (also a free sample), and she encouraged us to try the Supplemental Nursing System if we wanted to continue breastfeeding as well as getting formulas into our boy at the same time.  I remember the method seeming petty and confusing, and WORK.  But we agreed to try it out, and she showed Kyle and I how to team up and make it work.  It was complicating and stressful and just thinking about it gives me a lump in my throat.  Basically, we would fill a syringe with formula, attach a tiny sterile tube to the syringe, and then place the tube alongside my nipple as Cade latched on.  We were still trying to perfect the latch, so adding an extra step in caused much grief, but we did it.  For nearly 4 weeks, every feed, we would use this tiny little tube and place it as Cade latched, so that he would still nurse and hopefully stimulate my breasts to provide milk and increase my supply, but that he would still get substantial calories as well.  I remember feeling increasing anxiety as it came time for Kyle to go back to work, because how the hell was I supposed to do this on my own?  It took my tears, many tries, until we figured out a system that (sort of) worked.  When the tears got to be too much, I would just use my finger and feed the tube along my finger to feed Cade, after breastfeeding him.  I was scared of the bottle and we avoided it for as long as I could stand to.

After going in to the Breastfeeding clinic to meet with an LC there, Cade’s suck was evaluated and determined to be great.  The LC checked out his slight tongue tie, and also determined it to be very slight.  Our doctor has said the same.  This is still something to this day I wonder about.  Everyone has said it would not affect breastfeeding because it’s so slight and far back, but I am skeptical, if only because I am searching desperately for answers.  At one point when we met with the LC, I was breastfeeding Cade, and the LC was doing hardcore breast compressions to attempt to get the milk flowing.  And it still didn’t flow.  It just would NOT flow, stubborn supply.  The plan was to rent an electric hospital grade pump and attempt to pump after every feed for approximately 10 minutes per side (or all at once if using a double pump).  Needless to say, this was exhausting, but we did it.  The pump became my worst enemy.  I felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the pump.  We were not friends and I don’t believe this helped to increase my milk supply either.  I began to despise the pump, everything about it.  I hated washing out the pump parts a million times a day, I hated sitting there with the flanges on my breasts, making the “werr, werrrrrr” noise with every suction.  I hated anxiously watching the bottles that would catch the pumped milk, waiting to see a bottle at least half full.  I hated seeing next to no milk come out of my pumped breasts, my breasts that were so desperate to be full.  I’m sure one day I will regret it, but I wanted to experience hard, aching, full of milk boobies.  I felt envy and jealousy when my friends would have to slip in a breast pad because they were leaking.  I wanted to leak.  Shit, let me leak all over my shirt, let’s soak it up.  It never happened.

I attempted to take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, two supposed galactagogues, but the only thing they did was give my body a sweet and spicy odour.  I took these in combination with Domperidone, a prescribed medication used to treat stomach issues with the sometimes fortunate side effect of inducing lactation.  Again, I’m not sure it did much, though I did take it for about 6 months.  After 4 weeks of feeling in my heart that I tried everything I could to increase my supply, but to see really no improvements, I retired the SNS and revamped our routine to 1) Breastfeed Cade for as long as he would latch and suckle 2) Give him a bottle with formula to top him off.  This worked and I felt like a huge amount of pressure was eased off of me.  The SNS created stress and I began to cry at almost every feed.  Was it worth it?  Was Cade benefiting from a depressed and completely worn-down mother?  Eventually, I returned the pump.  I held onto it for a very long time, because I couldn’t bring myself to take it back for fear that it was signalling I had given up.  I hadn’t used it in days, and it was sitting there, taking up space, it was almost daunting in a way.  I returned it, and I felt a twinge of sadness, until I realized why I was returning it.

It took me a long time to realize what our feeding routine was doing to my son, and to myself.   I was completely worn out, I was stressed, and I was depressed.  I had begun to question if I really did everything I could, surely I missed something, right?  But when I realized that I did everything I could, and when I realized that it was worth it for our feeding routine to change, was when I felt a complete let-go of the stress that had been bogging me down.  I felt this within myself, and I noticed a change in my son at feeding.  He took to the bottle like a champ, and he took to the breast like a champ.  There were no issues with him going from breast to bottle and back.  Was it so important to me to not use a bottle because it might mean failure, even when it might have meant not so pleasant things for my son?  He truly thrived when I was happy, and I didn’t realize that in the moment until we had decided to change our routine, for everyone’s sake, but mostly Cade’s and my own.   Cade needed me, he needed his mother, to be happy, and to be content, and to feel GOOD about the time spent feeding him.  I was not feeling good about this, and what was this doing to him?  Did I want to transfer so much negative energy to a sweet little baby?  Of course I didn’t, so why I was doing that for so long, I don’t know.   I have determination and I have perseverance, and because I knew in my heart that that was one of the best things I could do for my son, was breastfeed him.

This was what factored into my decision to keep at it for so long.  I understand that everyone has a choice to make, and that choice is truly their own.  I respect each woman’s choice, and I do believe that decisions are made for a reason, based on past experiences, life issues, and the like.  The choice that I made, that we made, as a family, was for me to continue to breastfeed Cade for as long as we could sustain it.  Even if it was a teaspoon of milk he was getting from me.  Even if it was a drop.  We had become pros at breastfeeding, and it was part of our routine, so we kept on keeping on.  Gradually, he started to get more formula and less breastmilk, though there were times where he would breastfeed and did not want to take a bottle after that.  Those times?  I felt happy.  I felt good.  I felt like that was a huge success for us, and it was sort of a gift, a karmic gift, after the breastfeeding struggles we had endured.

We kept on with this routine until Cade was about 8 months old.  Eventually, it had turned to where he would only breastfeed in the morning when he first woke up, before having a bottle, or in the middle of the night when he would wake up to eat, while waiting for the bottle to warm up.  He got to an age where he got so distracted, and nursing was not on the top of his priority list, and so we went with it, and we excelled at that for awhile too.  Around 8 months old, he lost his interest in nursing, and it sort of happened gradually, which I am thankful for.  I remember thinking that I had to prepare myself for the end of this rocky journey that we had had, but because it just dwindled off, I am just now mourning the conclusion of it, pouring it all out there.
Truthfully?  I feel okay with how things went.  I had to come to terms with it, and I still have many what if’s that cross my mind, sometimes on a daily basis, but not as much anymore.  Do I wish that things would have went differently?  I do.  But I have learned so much based how things did go, and they went according to the agenda in which they needed to go.  Not only have I learned an insane amount about breastfeeding, pregnancy, birthing, and how the birthing process can affect breastfeeding, I have learned even more about my son and myself.  My son is patient and determined.  He possesses these traits like no other, and while some might argue that I can’t determine that since he’s so young, I CAN and I know that he will fight for what he wants, and if he wants it, he will get it.  I feel like at such a young age, only 8 months, he already knows exactly what he wants and how to go for it.  When my son is old enough to understand, I want to talk to him about our journey, and I want to thank him for being patient with me as I learned, and for helping me to learn.  He taught me the gift of patience and perseverance.  He taught me to believe in myself, and to be strong when times were tough.  And really, by simply being born, he has encouraged me to conquer my fears, to take on anything.

Still to this day, I don’t know why we were not able to exclusively breastfeed.  I don’t want to say that we weren’t successful at breastfeeding, because the way success is measured can be so trivial.  We were successful in ways that we had to be.  Was it the tongue tie?  Is it because I was induced and my body just wasn’t ready?  Was it the epidural and intense infusion of IV fluids?  Did the pitocin have something to do with it?  Should we have done skin-to-skin sooner and commenced the breastfeeding journey right then and there?  Do I have insufficient glandular tissue, a physiological condition that can prevent a sufficient supply of milk?  There were times where I wanted to be more successful, and around 6 months old I seriously considered attempting the process of ‘relactating’, but aptly decided that I would be doing more damage than good by taking on that.  That’s just a whole other ball game.

Just like any other mama who breastfed once but is no longer, I miss the feeling of my beautiful little angel’s tiny hands on my chest, resting on my breast, as he nursed and looked at me, or nursed and got so comfy he dozed off.  I miss being skin-to-skin and having his warm and so very soft tummy pressing against my own.  I miss his little “hmm” noises he would make when he was latched on.  I miss the feeling of nutritionally nurturing him, knowing I am providing him with the antibodies that he needs and his body desires.

I had many moments where I felt extreme amounts of guilt.  I didn’t want to feed him in public, because pulling out that bottle meant that I had failed breastfeeding, and so obviously I had failed as a mother, right?  WRONG.  I learned that breastfeeding did not equal perfection, nor did it equal motherhood.  Was it a huge component of motherhood?  Yes it was, but it was not the be all and it was not the end all.  In the end, I was doing for my son what I needed to do for him.  We learned along the way.  I’m hoping with future babies (probably only just 1 ;) that breastfeeding will work out, and that I will be able to use the tools that Cade taught me, in order to be “successful.”  But that’s for another time, and for now, this is where we’re at.

But most importantly, I am proud of where we were and where we have come.  I feel blessed that we were given an obstacle, a hurdle, and we flew right over it, with a little bit of turbulence along the way.  I know that my experiences might seem trivial compared to other’s, but the fact is, this is our story, and it does matter.  Our story might help others, but most of all, it has helped us.  It will make us better people, more empathetic, stronger individuals.  I feel like I have a surge of compassion that has been injected in me because of it.  I feel better able to understand other’s experiences with breastfeeding.  I never realized the emotional intensity of a breastfeeding journey and all that goes along with it.  I now do, and I think that that is beautiful and such an important part of the life that I want to lead.   My boy is thriving and I am happy and as healthy as I’ve ever been.  We work as a team, and this was only the very start of it.  We are in for a very wonderful, a very fulfilling, and a very triumphant ride.

Entry filed under: Cade, Love, Mamabear. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

C25K: Week 8 Day 1 C25K: Week 8 Day 2

26 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Emily  |  July 26, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Do you think you might have insufficient glandular tissue? It seems possible when you say you didn’t have any breast changes during pregnancy. Of course, that’s not always a sign (my breasts didn’t really grow in pregnancy – though they did get very sore at times – and I breastfed my daughter exclusively for half a year and then with other foods until she was two and a half), but it can mean you lack glandular tissue. In such a case you shouldn’t feel guilty!

    Reply
    • 2. tristadawn  |  July 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Hi Emily, thanks for visiting. I have no idea if I do or not. When we were meeting with the LCs non-stop, I had several of them who had watched me breastfeed, so I would think one of them would have noticed if my breasts looked ‘different’? Maybe not though! Do you know much about it?

      Reply
  • 3. Jen McLellan  |  July 26, 2011 at 9:50 am

    ***Tears*** Trista thank you for sharing your heartbreaking breastfeeding story. You are an inspiration and an incredible mother! I think only women who have experienced the same journey with breastfeeding know the depth of pain and disappointment that is experienced. I also think we know, in our core, the strength and determination that is within us. Like you said, you didn’t fail! We didn’t fail. I loved how you talked about what Cade has taught you through this experience. I have to believe it happened to us for a reason and you listed many reasons within this touching post.

    Reply
    • 4. tristadawn  |  July 26, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Jen, thanks for stopping by! And thank you for the kind words.
      I felt so much of the same things when I read your breastfeeding story, because I could relate to it so much. It really motivated me to get out there and do an intense, complete post on my journey.
      I totally agree that when baby #2 makes their way into our lives we ought to be of support to one another.
      <3 <3! Big hugs to you.

      Reply
  • 5. Tara  |  July 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Trista, I cried while reading your post, you can’t feel guilty or that things would have could have been different if only….. I was supposed to have a midwife water birth and ended up after 43 long hours and every hospital intervention you can think of had a csection, I missed the skin to skin immediately post delivery and the attempt at breastfeeding that I had waited for since I knew that it was unlikely that I would be able to exclusively breastfeed as at 21 I had had a breast reduction since your not thinking of the baby your going to have 13 years later, but I was going to do everything in my power to be able to. At the delivery I saw her for maybe 2 minutes and then they took her away and we met again 1.5hrs later, would my milk production have been any different if we had those first moments like I hoped for? Who knows. I had been followed by the breast clinic from 34 weeks on and we had been able to hand express colostrum (yay!! Could this mean I will be successful?). Within 24 hrs after delivery my nipples were scabbed from poor latch due to a tongue tie, self diagnosed and confirmed at the breast clinic a few days later that was clipped and all of a sudden no problem with latching at all. Within 36hrs after birth, Lily was 12% below bw and I was given no choice but to supplement, which I did with a dropper as I was in no way putting a bottle in her mouth in the first crucial days. She cried, I cried, we were a mess. At the breast clinic I was started on domperidone which magically increased my milk supply and I suffered through the nausea and headaches so that instead of pumping 5-7mls I could pump 20 or 25 if I was lucky, I had to save my milk for 2 days to be able to offer a full feeding of breast milk via the bottle, liquid gold is right, i guarded those bottles that I worked so hard for with my life! I was not losing 1 drop of the pumped milk, we breastfed then I supplemented then I pumped, it was exhausting as you know, to add to matters I got a wound infection that took 7 weeks of daily clinic visits to heal, then I got the flu and then pneumonia, I persevered through all of it because I wanted to breastfeed so badly since I felt like I lost out on the other birth aspects that were “supposed to happen” finally with the pneumonia when lily was 2 months ( I had a break of a few days between the infection and the flu/pneumonia, nice eh?) I was so sick and could barely care for myself let alone my daughter, thank god for in laws! I had to stop the breastfeeding and pumping regimen and by the time i was slightly better in that I could care for lily again my little bit of milk was gone but my hospital grade rental pump sat on my bedroom floor for days because I too could not bear to part with it, thinking at the moment I returned it would be admitting failure. Lily has thrived even without exclusive breastfeeding, I have let some of my guilt go, I do miss the sounds of her eating or when we would fall asleep together but life goes on and she is here and healthy and that is all any mother can ask for at the end of the day. I just wanted to share my low milk story with you so you know your not alone, I get a little tired hearing about everyone and their overabundance of milk and how they needed a second freezer just to store it all!! Good luck, hopefully with baby number 2 you will have an increased milk supply, that’s what I’m hoping for in my story anyway.

    Reply
    • 6. tristadawn  |  July 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      Wow, Tara, thank you SO much for sharing your story. I feel honoured. Your story broke my heart and made me cry too. It sounds eerily familiar to my own, which just goes to show we are not alone.
      I am so glad we have an arena in which to share these vulnerable stories, and provide support to one another, to other women.
      I am sorry you had to go through these experiences, and I am glad that you have managed to heal from this. I too hope you have increased supply with baby #2. We’ll have to keep each other posted. :)

      Reply
  • 7. Martha  |  July 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Trista, this was so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I am in tears and in awe of your strength and love for your little man. I don’t know what to say, because there really are no words. Thanks again for being vulnerable and sharing your experiences with other women. <3

    Reply
    • 8. tristadawn  |  July 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      Martha, thank you for taking the time to read and share my story. It was very healing to write, and to make sense and piece together everything that went on. Thank you for being a friend. <3

      Reply
  • 9. Emily  |  July 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Hi, it’s Emily again. For more information on insufficient glandular tissue, you might want to look at a medical journal called Pediatrics at an article that appeared in August 1985 (don’t know exact date) about three women who had this issue. In all cases, the women’s milk did not come in, and the babies lost weight until they were supplemented. However, the mothers still chose to feed their babies part-time, so to speak. The author of the article, Dr. Marianne Neifert (you might have heard of her as “Dr. Mom”) stated that while the majority of women can breastfeed exclusively, saying that “All women can nurse successfully” does a disservice to those who cannot.

    Actually, in the future I might be in a position where I’ll have to supplement. I am not planning on any more biological children, but some day I might adopt. I know that adoptive mothers can produce milk, but usually not enough to fully feed a baby. So I think, like Dr. Neifert, that we should be prepared to admit that not every woman can produce enough milk – but that even in these cases they can still enjoy a breastfeeding relationship with their child.

    Reply
  • 10. Fearless Formula Feeder  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Count me as one of the people who cried reading this. I don’t know why it hit me so hard – I mean god knows I read heart-wrenching stories like this every week – but the way you wrote about Cade and what he taught you – oh… I can’t stop sobbing. I felt the same about FC and I know exactly what you mean. This is truly beautiful, Trista.

    Reply
    • 11. tristadawn  |  July 28, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      Thank you so much for the beautiful comment. Now you’ve got ME crying. Oi yoi yoi! Two sobbing messes. This is what motherhood does to us.
      Thank you for reading, and again, I appreciate your words. I am glad you felt connected to the story and to what I had to say.
      Thank you also for your blog/website/community. It was of GREAT assistance and support to me when we were going through that whole mess. I don’t remember how I found it, but I remember that I was elevated beyond belief. FINALLY I didn’t feel so alone. <3

      Reply
  • 12. NavelgazingMidwife  |  July 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Trista: Oh, how I know your story. Not my own story, but with too many other women… clients and friends… over the last 30 years.

    One piece of the puzzle I don’t see is your considering PCOS as a possibility. Your body-type leads me to encourage you to consider this possibility. Since you’re such a great researcher, look at Lisa Marasco’s work with milk supply issues. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with PCOS or Insulin Resistance issues, I *highly* encourage you to read through all this info on KellyMom’s site:

    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/pcos.html

    With the moms who’ve had this type of supply issue, merely taking Metformin (Glucophage) can transform the milk supply. Similar to Metformin transforming infertility issues, it can do the same with breastfeeding.

    This *might* not be the issue… but the symptoms you describe, including lack of breast changes… seem quite consistent with PCOS.

    That aside, I *beg* you to not give one more thought about bottles or formula. In another country, your child would probably have died unless you had access to a wet nurse or formula. You and your son are so incredibly blessed to be here where you have clean water and ample formula to feed your child. The “lactivists” who scowl and whisper behind your back now have lessons coming to them they can only pray never happen. One thing I’ve learned over all these years working in birth: NEVER pass judgement on a mother. Ne-ver. None of us birth junkies has any room to talk about another mom’s choices. We do the best for our child and family because we love them. Thank heavens there are infinite choices to choose from! I’ve spent too much time eating crow myself over the judgments I’ve made early in my birth career. It took awhile, but I finally learned to keep my mouth shut and help women – *where they wanted help*!

    You did a fantastic job, Trista. Just beautiful. Hold your head high forevermore and know you are the perfect mom for Cade. I, for one, am very proud of you and the choices you made.

    Reply
    • 13. tristadawn  |  July 30, 2011 at 12:54 am

      Thank you SOO much for visiting, for commenting, and for sharing my post with your FB community. That means a lot to me.
      Your words seriously put things into perspective, particularly the piece about formula and having my child in another country. That is what pained me so hard, to think about what could have happened had we not acted on having to give him formula. Bad, bad thoughts, bad bad things could have went down.

      I’ve looked into PCOS a TINY bit, but I’m not sure I have the symptoms? Heck, I got pregnant with the copper Flexi-T IUD in place, however, I think it had fallen out so it was not really in place, hence, not doing the job ;)

      I did have blood work done in November when we were initially struggling. I forgot to mention that in my story! They checked a bunch of things, including hormonal levels. Thyroid & hormonal levels were also checked in March at my annual physical and nothing of concern came up.

      I will absolutely check out the info on KellyMom (one of my fave resources for bf’ing!)

      Your words put me to tears. Actually, a ton of these comments did, really. Reading them one after another, while desperately needing sleep, was probably not the best idea.

      Tears, water, are healing for me, though, so I hope it’s all good :)

      Thank you thank you THANK you again. I cannot thank you enough. I am seriously blown away by the response I have received from sharing my story. I feel so honoured to hear other women’s stories, and to have touched so many people. I just hope so hard I can help another mama, to help her not feel so alone, to feel supported in such an emotional journey.

      <3 <3!

      Reply
  • 14. Brie  |  July 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I had vivid dreams all during my pregnancy, about the homebirth of my child (also didn’t know the gender, but in every dream it was a girl). They were always different, but always left me feeling so happy and peaceful. Our homebirth turned into a hospital, turned into a traumatic cesarean. And my dd’s “very mild” tongue tie (it was posterior) resulted in 20% body weight loss and screaming baby with few wet diapers and no poop. I too, did the sns/syringe/nipple shield hoopla and remember the pumping for 30 min every 2-3 hours. I only had to do it for 4 weeks, since lucky for us, clipping the tt was the magic fix! But I didn’t have low supply, I could get 1-1.5 ounces out of each side when I pumped, so once she started using her tongue right, she could get it out. You are such a strong mama for everything you did for your boy! I remember being so miserable those first few weeks (due to the birth and the breastfeeding issues), I can’t imagine what it would have been like to keep it up for as long as you did! You’re super-mama! TT is genetic, so I suggest you look into having it fixed next time if it’s there. Many doctors don’t think posterior tt is a big deal, but it is for many babies. I also have what-ifs about my birth, but in the end, I don’t regret the decisions I made that resulted in my healthy child. There will always be someone out there to tell us we did it wrong no matter what we do, but we’re the moms and no one loves our babies more!

    Reply
    • 15. tristadawn  |  July 30, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Brie, thank you SO much for sharing your journey and experiences with me. They are heart breaking and emotionally charged and it can be hard to open up about them. I’m glad the clipping of the TT worked for you. I STILL wonder about my son’s tongue tie, but the several people that evaluated it said it was not serious. I took their word for it and don’t know where else I’d turn or if it’s too late. That will ALWAYS be a what if! I’ve also heard of the frenulum/top lip sometimes being tied.

      I am sorry that you had a very traumatic birth. I hope that you managed to properly heal from it, and look within yourself for some amazing mama tool vibes :)

      You are so right – there’s always someone that’s gonna say we’re wrong. I think we can ONLY (most of the time ;) really listen to ourselves, and our babies. Our babies, damn, they are EXPERTS!
      <3!

      Reply
  • 16. Jenna Carter  |  July 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this… I’ve been struggling with the same exact thing and am still struggling to come to terms with my “failure.” It’s so hard for me to see other women breastfeed with such ease. I’m envious of the other mamas from our Hypnobirth class that are all successfully EBFing. It pains me to know I’ve lost such a magical connection with my baby, especially since it was the #1 thing I really wanted to make happen. I was positive that breastfeeding was going to be flawless for me and my biggest fear was not succeeding. And then I became unsuccessful just like my biggest fear threatened. I’ve been miserable for months over the loss, beating myself up, trying so hard to be thankful that at least my daughter is thriving and healthy, even if it is with formula. 

    My story is eerily similar to yours, from my baby screaming and crying because I was starving her without knowing it (this went on for 5 weeks until we had a doc appt and found that it had taken her those entire 5 weeks to reach original birth weight), to the mysterious lack of poop diapers (we thought she had digestive issues and tried stimulating her manually to get her to poop – we now realize she wasn’t pooping because she wasn’t eating enough), to the supplemental tube feeding (which flooded her mouth on numerous occassions, causing her to go into crying fits – what a production that whole process was!), to the herbal supplements and Dom to increase lactation, to hating being a slave to my pump and hardly getting enough milk for her meals (I couldn’t leave the house because I had to pump every 2-3 hours). Additionally, my daughter ended up going on a nursing strike in the middle of this whole ordeal and would scream bloody murder everytime my boob was placed near her mouth for feeding. I spent days and nights crying wondering why my baby hates my breasts, but with everything we went through trying to make it work, I shouldn’t be so surprised that she associated nursing with bad experiences.

    Thanks for letting me share… this is the first place I’ve read something so similar and I haven’t had anybody to relate to. I still get choked up when I feed my daughter now because it’s with formula. I HATE feeding her in public because of it. My daughter is only 5 months old and I’m still searching for a way to give her breastmilk (I sometimes get donated milk from a mama friend of mine who unselfishly gives me her frozen stash). You are not alone and THANK YOU for sharing. Your story touched my heart and, as painful as it was to read, you also reminded me to look at the positives and try not to blame myself. Thank you for that.

    Reply
    • 17. tristadawn  |  July 30, 2011 at 12:36 am

      Jenna, I am so sorry that you had to go through that experience.
      You know, it’s kinda funny, because I have to think really hard and clearly about what I’m going to say to women who are struggling with the same thing, because i KNOW how emotionally draining and exhausting it is, and you want to have the PERFECT words, right? Probably over-reacting a bit, as really, any support is support.

      First, thank you for sharing your story with me. I did not expect this post to see this kind of traffic/comments, and really I just feel honoured to be able to hear other women’s stories, to help other women feel like they are not alone, and most of all, to help women know that they should not feel guilty, but I know it happens. I experienced so much guilt. So many questions. So many what ifs. So much wondering about what MORE I could do, because surely I hadn’t done enough. Not quite. You know what, you’re an amazing mama. You know what is best for your daughter, and you did what was best for you and your daughter, and your family.

      I had so many reservations about formula. I still sometimes do. I have to TEACH, almost train myself to not be so harsh about formula. Check out Navel Gazing Midwife’s comment below – she’s got a really great perspective on formula, fresh water, etc. Your baby is being nourished, and you know what’s also great too, your friend who gives you some of her stash! That is SO awesome.

      You are doing, and have done, everything that you could, everything you felt you needed to do for your sweet babe.

      Thank you so much for visiting and for commenting, and thank you for sharing your story, and sharing your heart with me. Opening up and speaking/writing from the heart about such a painful experience is not easy, and I really feel honoured to be able to share in this experience with you.

      Please please try not to blame yourself. I know how it is though. It took me a LONG time to get over it, and I don’t even want to say get over it. It took me a long time to properly heal, and I still have my days, my moments. It’s an ongoing process, and the important thing is that you are healing. I don’t want to see you placing blame, or being hurt, but really, hurting is part of the grieving process and it’s something that you have to feel to get to the next part, the important healing, for you and for your daughter, and for moving forward.

      Our hearts can be so fragile, and we really need to take care of them. E-mail me or comment or anything if you need support or just want to talk about this in greater detail! triztah @ hotmail . com
      <3 & hugs!

      Reply
  • 18. Cathy  |  July 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Wow – I have been searching and searching for someone who understands how I felt when I tried to breastfeed my daughter and you hit the nail on the head……the depression, the guilt, the obsessing over increasing your milk supply, and the obsessing over all the reasons why your supply was so low. I went through that all. It took me a LONG time to be “over it” and I can’t say that I completely am yet (my daughter is now 2 1/2) but I do feel much more comfortable with the fact that my second child will probably be mostly formula-fed as well. I also realize how fortunate I was to have been able to breastfeed my baby for 4 mos. I began with a decent supply but somewhere into the 2nd month it began decreasing. By the 3rd month I was supplementing formula and by the 4th month she was strictly on formula. I tried EVERYthing to boost my supply. I also had trouble with the LC’s. When I would go see them, they would say, “oh she’s fine, she’s getting plenty!” (She was a chunky baby, weighing in at 8lbs 7oz at birth) But I knew…..
    I also find it interesting about the lack of change you saw in your breasts during pregnancy. I never thought of it, but I really didn’t have much of a change, either. It crossed my mind once or twice that it was strange but I never thought much more about it. I still wonder what is “wrong” with me. I was induced and had a Csection so those are things I wonder may have factored in. I also wonder if a thyroid issue may be the cause since I have other symptoms going on that I feel may be thyroid-related.
    It did not help that my sister-in-law, who had her sone exactly 9 weeks after I had my daughter, was OVER-producing milk. SO much so, that she had to buy a deep freezer to store all the extra milk in. So while I was struggling, I frequently had to be around her and her over-producing-self! That just made me feel worse :o(
    In the end, I have a beautiful, healthy, very bright little girl who adores me – THAT is what makes me feel better. I am much more accepting of using formula now, and do not plan on having any high expectations with BFing the next time around (we are currently trying for #2!). I will try again to BF and also try things a little differently (to test some of my theories as to why it didn’t work out last time!), but if I have to end up using formula again, I will be OK. I agree that being stressed out and depressed is not good for you OR your baby!
    Thank you again for posting this. We are obviously NOT terrible mothers, and quite possibly may even be BETTER than some of those BFing mothers out there! Because we worked twice as hard trying to do what was best for our babies……(Mommy loves you more than anything, Emmie <3)
    – Cathy

    Reply
    • 19. tristadawn  |  July 30, 2011 at 12:39 am

      Cathy, wow, thank you for sharing your story. Like I’ve said to other commenters, I feel SO provileged to be able to hear other women’s stories, and to connect on this very emotionally charged level with amazing mamas. I am so happy to hear you have healed from your experience, mostly. I think we might always have the what ifs, but they won’t always be so heart breaking, and now, we learn from them, and they fuel our passion to learn and research, rather than fueling our anger and depression. I think that’s the difference there.

      I think that our experiences helped to give us a really great sense of strength. Maybe they make us stronger, more stable mothers than we would’ve been, because we struggled with this. Who knows. What I DO know is that you are awesome, amazing, and strong. You shared your story, and that isn’t always easy to do. Especially with strangers. Thank you again for opening up.

      You truly did the best for your little Emmie, and she is obviously so attached to her mommy, which is beyond beautiful.

      Also, I will be thinking of you trying for #2! What a very beautiful and exciting moment in your life. :)
      <3!

      Reply
  • 20. Katherine  |  July 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I am not a LC, just a doula, but I don’t think any of the what-ifs you listed would have been make-or-break events. You went above and beyond to make breastfeeding work the best it could. Maybe there is a physiological or hormonal component to the low supply, but I think you deserve huge props and lots of gold stars for all the effort you put into nursing your son for as long as you did. That takes a lot of perseverance and love.

    You know, if you take supply out of the equation, it sounds like you guys actually had a very successful breastfeeding relationship – Cade had a good latch, you were committed to nursing him, and you had that wonderful intimacy and physical bonding with your tiny baby. Breastfeeding is about a lot more than just feeding and eating, and that photo at the end of the post really tells the tale; the little baby hand on the breast is so sweet. You are so right that breastfeeding is not what makes a mother, and wise to see that even with the best efforts (and you made them ALL) and the strongest will in the world, things don’t shake out the way we want them to. I feel like the primary lesson of having children is that we actually have no control over anything, and the more gracefully we can accept this, the better parents we will be. You are there!

    Reply
    • 21. tristadawn  |  July 30, 2011 at 12:26 am

      Katherine, I can’t thank you enough for these words. Your comment means so much to me, it really does.
      You really put things into perspective. I have done a lot of healing around this, and have come a long way, but of course still have ‘my moments.’

      You’re right – we did have a successful bf’ing relationship. You’re SO right! Thank you for that.
      Like I said, that really speaks volumes.

      Thank you for visiting.
      Also, what I forgot to put in the post was that I had hormonal levels/blood work checked in November when I was initially struggling with my supply. Nothing came back that was of concern. I also had my thyroid and hormonal levels checked in March, and again, nothing concerning. So, I’m not sure if it was physiological or what, but it is something to seriously look into next go. I hate having what ifs but eventually I’ve gotta shake them, or at least have them fuel my passion, research, etc.
      <3

      Reply
  • 22. Some People. | tristadawn  |  August 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

    [...] I blogged about my breastfeeding journey, I realized that there was one particular Lactation Consultant who stood out to me.  Out of all [...]

    Reply
  • 23. September 28, Mark It! « tristadawn  |  September 22, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    [...] by this, she is referring to my breastfeeding story that I submitted, the same one I posted on my blog 2 months ago.   I was really surprised to get [...]

    Reply
  • 24. trinity  |  September 24, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Trista- such a beautiful story of your journey. I loved the details of it all. I could sooooo relate with my first child. And feeling that guilt of being a failure to pull out that bottle in public or the dissapointment of lookin. At the pumped bottles that you had been whirring away at for 20 minutes with just very little sitting in the bottom of the bottle…………………But like you said the experience and Cade taught you. And so I want to tell you with my 2nd I still struggled, I got blebs, blisters, clogged ducts, fevers, etc. I fought hard but I did it! It was beautiful. I fed her till she was 17 months old when I had to stop due to extreme fatigue being preggers with my 3rd. By my 3rd I was a pro! Milk leaked everywhere, my boobs would swell up and I could fill that medela bottle with OUNCES in just 10 minutes. My heart rejoiced. Do I still feel sad to this day about my first son? Yes, I wish I could of had that bond n skin to skin contact more and longer. But none the less I love them all and they have taught me so much. I can’t wait to hear about your next BF story with #2 when you’re ready :)

    Reply
    • 25. tristadawn  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Trinity, thank you SO much for the lovely comment, and for sharing your own experiences with me.
      I can relate to your experiences, with feeling like a failure, etc.
      And yes, pumping, what a love hate relationship THAT was!
      I want to say… WOW, 17 months, good for you. That is amazing. I am proud of you and I don’t even know you. :) I know it’s not always easy. It is such an emotional journey.
      <3

      Reply
  • 26. Offbeat Mama! « tristadawn  |  September 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    [...] in the date they told me, but, my post is up!  It is a condensed version, obviously, because the actual version is very long – but I am thrilled nonetheless and so excited to be sharing my experiences and sharing in [...]

    Reply

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